by Adam Baum, Cincinnati Enquirer
GREEN TWP. - No matter the sport, four-year varsity letter winners don't come around all that often. Oak Hills High School's softball team has four, and they're the winningest class in the school's fast-pitch history, according to Oak Hills.
They're seniors, and best friends: Bethani Drew, Emily Wolfzorn, Brooke Shad and Bekah Finn. Their bond developed quickly as "tiny" freshmen on varsity four years ago.
"It's weird being a freshman on varsity," Wolfzorn said, adding that having each other to lean on made it easier.
As freshman, they didn't have a choice, they had to grow up, and did. All four agreed that Oak Hills' tournament run as freshman was one of their favorite memories. They entered the postseason, that year, with a 14-11 record, and no one expected them to make a regional final.
"When we made that long run in the tournament (freshman year), it didn't really hit us until we started going further and further," said Finn. "It made you grow up really fast ... (and realize) we aren't freshman anymore."
As sophomores they went 24-4, won the Greater Miami Conference but lost early in the postseason. They're proven winners. Their career record, as of May 15, is 82-35. But, they've done more than just win games.
"We made history," said Drew.
They also helped revive a program.
"A couple years ago you would have one or two good players. Now, you've really got a lot of girls (that can play), the classes coming up are all solid," Wolfzorn said.
Experience has allowed all four an opportunity to help mentor their younger teammates.
"They've only tasted success. It's what they expect and now they're the leaders of the team," said fifth-year coach Jackie Cornelius-Bedel. "This year, it's been so easy because (the seniors) take on the leadership and almost a coach role for the younger players. It takes the stress off the coaches."
Because they're only slightly removed from being smaller versions of themselves, they take great pride in being leaders and role models.
"We've all been here since freshman year. We know what it's like to be the youngest and not know what's going on," Wolfzorn said. "You can sort of tell they are looking at you."
Shad, who's signed with Capital University, agreed. "I love seeing the younger kids look up to us."
It certainly doesn't hurt that all four can play. Shad's 11-4 pitching, and hits .433 with 20 RBI. Drew, the catcher, hits .449 and has 15 RBI. At first base, Finn, hits .451 (25 RBI), and at second base, Wolfzorn, hits .380 with 27 RBI.
Like all great runs, it will inevitably end. A fact not lost on four friends, who leave a program better off than when they arrived.
"Because we started together, and we're ending together ... it makes me sad, in general not even softball," said Shad. "These have been my best friends."
In a matter of months, they'll go their separate ways. Wolfzorn and Drew aren't playing next year. Finn's signed with Marietta College, which is in the same conference as Capital, so Shad might find herself pitching against a former teammate and best friend for years to come. [Read More]